In my previous thoughts, we have attempted to dissect the Talmud’s first two of seven things withheld from human beings by God.
As a reminder, the first two were 1. We do not know the day we will pass and 2. We do not know the day we will recover from mentally suffering from loss or trauma.
This article will focus on the third item on the Talmud’s list. Namely, human beings have no true understanding of judgement or opinion.
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040–1105), best known as Rashi, is world renowned for his comprehensive commentaries on the Bible and the Babylonian Talmud. In fact, all editions of the Talmud published since the 1520s have included Rashi’s commentary in the margins. His annotations on the Bible have become a foundational element of Jewish education to this day.
EXPLANATION #1 – FAKE NEWS
Rashi offers two explanations on what this vague line in the Talmud actually means.
His first analysis is that the Talmud is referring to fake news due to lack of humans verifying the information given. I believe that this is the first time that term fake news has been introduced.
He posits that most people judge matters erroneously. When we hear someone opine on a matter, we often accept that opinion as fact, and we have no interest in further verifying if it is indeed true. For whatever reason says Rashi, most people do not plumb the depths of a statement to assess its veracity.
This is now truer than ever.
As someone who has become politically independent, I was always amazed when I used to check out the various news stations. I found it fascinating (and repulsive) that the differences in the reporting (being offered as actual and factual news) was diametrically opposite from one another. It was hard for me to fathom that the news outlets were even talking about the same country, let alone issue!
To be honest, I have a hard time blaming God for our gullibility. I believe that God created us with this flaw not to revel in, but rather work on ourselves to remove our naiveté.
EXPLANATION #2 – HEAVEN AND HELL
The second explanation that Rashi offers is more of a strictly Godly phenomenon. Rashi explains that how the heavenly court judges a person/soul, whether while in a physical body or after our bodies are interred, is completely withheld from us. We have no concept of how Godly judgement is determined.
While it is true that we do have a semblance of a justice system, and we have somewhat figured out how to dispense justice to mortal beings, it is far from perfect. Aside from the fact that a judge, jury and attorneys can make mistakes, or worse, pervert justice, we still have no clue how to adjudicate cases that are not the run of the mill or are extremely hard to judge due to the complex, intricate and multifaceted issues that arise. The very fact that there was slavery in the world is a miscarriage of justice. The very idea of anti-Semitism is because our judgement went awry.
GOD AS A MIND READER
God’s justice is perfect. However, the workings and mechanisms of the heavenly justice system have been withheld from us. An example the Ben Ish Chai gives is as follows. There may be 10 people who commit the same trespass against God, and yet the punishment/correction meted out is completely different. This is so because God knows the thoughts lying in the deep recesses of a human’s brain, and therefore knows the nuances that led up to this trespass. In other words, it is not only about the actual infraction, but rather, more importantly, what led up to this that caused this person to act contrary to what is proper.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
Another fundamental reason as to why God’s sense of justice is vastly different from ours is because God is the final and ultimate arbitrator of which acts are greater than others. Our human brain gravitates to larger acts being greater than smaller deeds. God, however, has a completely different notion of what that means. I once heard an example of this. A poor person who is down on his luck on public assistance who gives $5 to charity is way more impressive than a million-dollar donation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Hey Jeff, The Chai Center will be very impressed though). Why is this so? Because the $5 is way more meaningful to God as this poor person has literally given his life, blood, sweat and tears to charity. While it is true that The Chai Center can accomplish much more with a million than with five dollars, this fact does not negate the incredible lofty level of sacrifice of the five dollar donation in the eyes of God.
GOD HAS MORE OPTIONS
In this world, you only have so many ways to correct the wrongs that a person did. A judge can give probation, a fine, suspend a license, and sentence jail time or capital punishment. God, on the other hand, has more items at His disposal. God’s toolbox is limitless. In addition to physical punishments/corrections mentioned above, God has control over body, soul, health, happiness, life and death and livelihood. Of course, God has reincarnation, transmigration, as well as heaven and purgatory at His disposal. There are more wrenches in God’s toolbox than all of Matco’s, past, present and future sales.
In conclusion, God’s justice is true justice as God is infallible. A human being, even a judge on a bench for 40 years, can be duped, conned, bribed or cheated. Not so the “big guy.” God is above reproach and therefore cannot be induced or persuaded. The Mishna tells us that God will not overlook anything, and time does not change anything. The Mishna also says that just one minute of true remorse, regret and resolve is a game changer as far as consequences are concerned.
Ultimately, we live in God’s country and abide by His rules.
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